Consider Phlebas was a Sword & Laser book pick I got a late start on. Now, while this isn’t my first Culture novel (that would be Matter) it was the first Culture novel, so I was interested in reading it and seeing where the series started.
So, Ian M. Banks, to my anime fan mind, has a lot in common with Yoshiyuki Tomino & Gen Urobuchi – his casts tend to rarely survive his works. Much of the cast of Matter did not survive that novel, and in the same way, the cast of Consider Phlebas basically gets slaughtered as the book goes on.
As with Matter, our narrative perspective for most of the book is from an outsider to The Culture. However, this time it’s from someone who is openly hostile to The Culture. Our point-of-view comes from Horza, a spy for a civilization called Indirans, who are at war with The Culture.
When a Culture Mind – the machine intelligences that control their society – ejects from its damaged ship and crashes of the Grave world of Schar’s World, Horza ends up in a race against time against a Culture Special Circumstances agent that he’s familiar with – Perostech Balveda
I’d read, going in, that Consider Phlebas was a bad first choice to read in the Culture series – that’s why I read Matter first. Consider the darkness and level of violence in this book – far greater than Matter – I support that recommendation. It’s not that the book is bad, it’s that it’s confrontational to the reader in ways that can make for an excessive barrier.
I’m glad I stuck through it, but I’d recommend coming into this with an ‘80s-90s (or Madoka Magica era of Urobuchi) level of mental prep.Consider Phlebas is available in physical, digital, and audiobook forms from Amazon.com. Buying anything through those links helps to support the site.
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